We have a plan.

Mitchell County has a plan to address the issue of drug abuse in our county. Learn more about how we plan to use the national opioid settlement funds to make a difference in our communities and access online resources for information and help.

A Way Forward - Mitchell County's Response to the Drug Problem

DRUGS IN MITCHELL COUNTY

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has been tracking an uptick in deaths due to overdoses. Statistics note that 90% of all overdose deaths statewide were unintentional, and they include a mix of medications and drugs, including opioids, synthetic narcotics, stimulants, and other drugs.

In 2022, there were 5 deaths in Mitchell County directly attributed to overdoses.

WHAT ARE THE OPIOID SETTLEMENTS?

In 2021, a $56 billion dollar settlement with the drug companies who manufacture opioids was reached following lawsuits brought by states. The settlements are designed to bring resources to communities dealing with the opioid epidemic. North Carolina is receiving $1.5 billion dollars as the state’s part of the settlement. The money is being distributed to local governments to be used in addressing substance abuse issues. As part of that distribution, the local governments must develop plans on how to effectively use the funds in their communities for the problem.

HOW WE GOT HERE

Between 2022 and 2024,  Mitchell and Yancey Counties conducted an an assessment and community learning process to better understand the current situation around substance misuse. These activities involved a broad cross-section of people in both counties to identify possible interventions and address current challenges.

OUR GOALS

In sessions held in both Mitchell and Yancey Counties, the committee had specific goals for their work.

  • Learn community needs to deal with substance use
  • Provide an opportunity for residents to share their experiences with substance use
  • Strengthen and expand relationships, partnerships, and collaborations.
  • Explore the “big picture” of substance use in our region.
  • Identify areas the community prioritizes as necessary to invest in.
  • Provide a process that could be healing for our communities

COMMUNITY LEARNING
PROCESS PROJECT

The project consisted of 4 phases:

  1. Design Phase – An advisory group of more than 20 local people with varying professional and personal life experiences around matters of substance misuse and addiction contributed knowledge and insight from their vast experiences with this epidemic. They worked together to inform how the process would be implemented; what information would be collected; and how to synthesize and share back what was learned and what the community identified.
  2. Story Collection – People from all over the two-county region contributed more than 130 stories their firsthand experiences with substance use, offering 110 of these stories to be used for learning among the broader community.
  3. Sensemaking of Stories Collected – The advisory group hosted four sessions in which 119 people participated – two sessions in each County. During the sessions, participants read the stories, discussed insights, and generated many ideas for actions (664 ideas and insights in total).
  4. Compiling the Learnings to Share Back with the Community – Members of the Advisory group reviewed information gathered from the stories and sessions, of what was learned, and looked at the ideas of future action to address the issues identified.

WHAT WE LEARNED

The advisory group found that there are many voices in our community who want to be heard when it comes to drug abuse.

“I have seen more people engaged in this process, from every sector, than at any community gathering about substance use since I’ve been in the recovery community for almost 13 years.”

“I have more faith that something is going to be done this time and not just talked about.”

“A ripple of this process has been the rejuvenated energy around addressing substance use in our community. Since beginning this organized effort, there has been a bursting commitment level.”

“I am learning so much from this, seeing things from a different perspective, and it is helping me in my personal life and in my professional role. ”

“I think we have made so many more people aware of the severity of our drug problem. I also think we have raised the compassion level greatly. I am so Proud to have been a small part of this.”

“People who wouldn’t normally fool with a ”community process” have been engaged. It’s also brought people together from different parts of the system, people who don’t normally work together.”

SEEING THE BIG PICTURE

A Vision for How to Experience Community Wellness in Mitchell and Yancey Counties

Graphic summarizing the process of the committee

This visual was created through broad community input from a 10-month community learning process around substance use in Mitchell and Yancey Counties in 2023-2024. More details about actions that can be taken and existing efforts in each of the intervention areas can be found in the share back report. The report is available for download here, and learn more about resources available through the Partners Aligned Toward Health (PATH) website at https://pathwnc.org/resources/.

HOW TO USE THIS VISUAL

In the image, all the words in the soil (brown color) are specific areas that require intervention, investment of resources and community effort. Some of these areas require funding and other tangible resources. Others are things that anyone in the community can contribute to for no cost. There is no one right or best place to invest. Action is needed in all these areas, and many things (big and small) must be tried.

  • Look at the brown and green circles – Where can you (as an individual or as part of government, an organization, or a community group) contribute?
  • Look at the whole image to see all the pieces of the puzzle that require attention.

Two local artists created the art for the visual. Jennifer Haun painted the background scene, Rooted in Recovery, and Joslynn M. Allen, a local teenager, created the bird and mushroom. Both of their families have been personally impacted by the opioid epidemic.

If you have problems accessing the image, please contact our webmaster (info@mitchellcountync.gov) for assistance.

Cover of the report entitled Community-Guided Learning Process Around Substance Use in Mitchell and Yancey Counties Share Back Report - February 2024

THE REPORT

The Advisory Committee has gathered information and developed a report on what Mitchell and Yancey Counties consider doing with the opioid settlement funds. Download the report for a detailed review of what the community has shared for intervention.

THE MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT

As a part of North Carolina’s settlement, the state requires local governments to enter into Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) in which the amount of money being distributed to each government is spelled out with specific details on how the money will be used. The MOAs detail these plans and are approved by both state officials and the local government before the money can be spent. The settlement specifies that the State of North Carolina will keep 15 percent of the money for statewide programs, with 85 percent being divided among the 100 counties and 17 municipalities.

The County Commission of Mitchell County is the government responsible for the MOA here, and Mitchell County’s share of the settlement over the 18 years of distributions is $3,614,967, with $633,243 released as of January, 2024. Commissioners reviewed the report and decision-making guidance shared by the community for how to use the money most effectively.

NEXT STEPS

The report and findings from the Community Learning Process Project will be presented to Mitchell County Commissioners in March, 2024 to assist them in determining where the distribution of opioid settlement funds would be best suited to address this epidemic and bring about more wellness in the lives of the people of Mitchell County.

THANK YOU!

A BIG thank you goes out to

  • County Commissioners for supporting the Community Learning Process
  • Dogwood Health Trust for the grant to conduct this project
  • WNC Health Network Consultants for leading the project
  • Yancey County Local Government for partnering with us
  • Community members who shared their stories of substance use.
  • Everyone who participated in one or more groups throughout the project which included many community partners and individuals

Resources

Here is a collection of resources grouped by topic. Click or tap the name of an organization to access their website.

Behavior

Education

Employability

Housing

Legal

Life Skills

Mental Health

Physical-Medical

Sobriety

Transportation

Drugs Presentation

Sample slide from drugs presentation

Download the Community Drug Awareness Presentation slides for the talk given by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department (PDF file – open with the free Adobe Reader software).

Our Partners

Dogwood Health Trust Logo
WNC Health Network Logo

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn how you can connect with local opioid settlement planning efforts, contact Glenda Shuffler at Human.Resources@mitchellcountync.gov.